A £4 million multi purpose facility for the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) at Osprey Quay on Portland in Dorset has been formally handed over.

RYA Portland House has been developed by regeneration company the Sutton Harbour Group in partnership with the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) and will be the hub of performance sailing in the run up to and during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It is the first phase of Sutton Harbour’s £30 million leisure and tourism development called Castle Court near Portland Castle, and the latest development to take shape at Osprey Quay where the RDA is investing £40 million to transform the former Royal Navy Air Station into a major employment centre with up to 1,400 jobs by 2016.

Nigel Godefroy, chief executive of the Sutton Harbour Group, said: “This is just the first phase of our Castle Court scheme and we’re very proud to have delivered this high quality building on time and on budget despite market conditions. We are currently in detailed discussions with both the Council and the RDA over the content of Phase two, the construction of which we intend to complete before 2012.  This next exciting phase is likely to include a combination of employment space, food store, hotel, and associated high quality public realm and we are on target to submit a planning application in the next few months.”

Mike Wigley, RYA Treasurer and chairman of the Portland Working Party, said “We are delighted with the new RYA Portland House facility which we believe will be instrumental in providing a performance advantage for our potential Olympic sailors in the run up to and during the 2012 Olympic Games.

“But as well as being earmarked for 2012 preparations the facility will also be available for use by class associations, RYA personal members, members of affiliated clubs, as well as berth holder associations and Sailability for events, meetings, conferences, training and competition activities.”

James Watt, development manager at the South West RDA with responsibility for Osprey Quay, said: “RYA Portland House is another exciting addition to the range of leisure and employment uses being developed at Osprey Quay. Our investment has helped make this site attractive to private investors like Sutton Harbour and there is now more than £80 million of private sector investment either spent or in the pipeline. Osprey Quay already supports more than 300 jobs with many more to come by the time it is fully developed.”

Cllr Geoff Petherick, brief holder for economic development at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said: “It is fantastic to witness the regeneration of Osprey Quay, and the handover of RYA Portland House is another example of how the 2012 Games are transforming the area into an outstanding location for world-class sailing. In less than 1000 days, sailing teams from around the globe will be here to participate in the Games, and I am sure that I speak for residents across the Borough in saying that this is a very exciting prospect indeed.”

The five-storey RYA Portland House includes a reception area, meeting rooms, storage, a small retail unit, three floors of 24 en-suite bedrooms and a top floor clubroom, bar and dining area with views over the water.

The building was designed by the Architects Design Group and built by Midas Construction. It is expected to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘excellent’ rating because of its high environmental performance.

Elsewhere at Osprey Quay work has almost finished on the old Mere Tank Farm site, which has been cleared, levelled and services installed to provide flexible space for activities related to the 2012 Games, after which it will be available for a range of employment uses. The work has been paid for by the RDA and managed by the Borough Council.

A planning application has now been submitted for 17 small business units at Osprey Quay and work is also progressing well on a low carbon housing scheme that aims to be an exemplar of green development. Sustainable developer ZeroC, in partnership with the RDA, is building 77 low carbon homes to the north of Victoria Road, which should be completed in December.

The RDA has earmarked up to £500,000 from the sale of the land to Zero C to be spent on community facilities, including a new skate park, new seating and play facilities at Victoria Gardens and an upgrade of Officer’s Field nearby, keeping it as a permanent sports field and open space.

Last year saw the completion of the £27 million Portland Marina by marina developers and operators Dean & Reddyhoff, including a range of shoreside facilities for boat owners, The Boat That Rocks bar and restaurant, 15 new business/retail units and five large commercial units. Osprey Quay is located at the gateway to the Isle of Portland, adjacent to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), the UK’s world class sailing academy and venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games sailing events.